With two minutes left in the third quarter -- just 17 minutes from a second consecutive win over hated Nebraska -- Iowa held a 17-point lead and had held Nebraska to 153 yards of offense. Twenty minutes later, it was over, and Iowa had managed to lose a fourth trophy game in the same season.
How it happened: Iowa committed four first-half turnovers, including two deep in Nebraska territory, that kept the game competitive. The Hawkeyes gave up a pair of touchdown passes to wide open receivers, exposing the same secondary flaws that have hurt this team all season. It gave up two long punt returns -- including one that went 80 yards for a touchdown -- because it continues to use a pro-style punt defense that only sends two or three players downfield when the rest of college football has moved to something that actually utilizes the rules as written. And when the defense needed one more stop, it simply ran out of gas. Throw in an atrocious second-half performance by the Iowa offense in general and Jake Rudock in particular (7/18 for 57 yards in the five series after Iowa had taken it's 17-point lead) and Iowa's usual turtle-like offensive tendencies, and it was a recipe for disaster. Nebraska executed a punt off its own lineman's butt and still executed better on special teams than Iowa. Tommy Armstrong (who Gary Dolphin kept calling Tommy Frazier) went 12/27 for 202 yards and two interceptions, and was still the better quarterback. Nebraska gave up 31 regulation points to Greg Davis, and was still at least on par with Iowa's defense. In the parlance of Millionaire Kirk, it was a loss in all three phases of the game.
We'll get into the details later -- like how Iowa blew second-half leads to two of its four primary rivals this year, or how the trophy case will sit empty for the second time in three seasons, or how Ferentz is now below .500 in the Big Ten since signing college football's biggest contract and 10-11 at Kinnick in the last three seasons and hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since 2011 and still somehow keeps getting paid -- but for now, there is little more to say than that Iowa ended up exactly where it should have: 7-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten, fourth in a crappy division behind three primary rivals who all beat it, with a Brewster-like talk to performance ratio.
Season tickets to watch this mess, a steal at $400 plus that seat license fee, go on sale in the spring. Better queue up.